Monday, May 05, 2008

cowgirl bling

I spent Saturday at a rodeo queen contest with a bunch of 4-H girls. For as much time as I've spent in the horse world (about 25 years now), I've had pretty limited experience with the rodeo. I mean, aside from watching a few local events, admiring the scenery

and noticing that bull riders at the National Finals have started wearing crash helmets (It's about time, says I, the old riding marm), Rodeo and I haven't crossed paths much. Of course, every time I hear Garth singing about it I wish I'd spent my life on the circuit. But I digress.
I have to remind myself occasionally that I chose "Try it" as my motto for 2008. Besides, it's not like the whole rodeo queen thing was for my benefit. As the great Bob the Tomato once said, "It's for the kids." And what the 4-H girls want, the 4-H girls get. I'll admit it. I'm a total pushover (I've even managed to wheedle them in as my ring stewards for a show I'm judging later this month, so they can get a center-ring view of the classes).
So, anyway. Rodeo queens (like cheerleaders and beauty pageant contestants) = Extremely visible, flashy targets for all sorts of ridicule. But, you know what? Some of those girls were really impressive. Not only did they have to memorize and perform a reining pattern on the spot, but they had to dismount in front of a panel of judges and stand there looking pretty while answering a bunch of random, off-the-cuff questions like, "Can you name a famous bronc rider?" and "Can you point to your horse's gaskin?" and "Who is the stock contractor for the 2008 Pine Country Pro Rodeo?"
A couple of the girls were clearly flustered by some of the questions, and I heard a few of them tell the judges, "I'll look into that and get back to you" (with those dazzling smiles glued firmly in place, of course). After the Q&A each girl had to mount up, ride over to the announcer's booth, take the mic and deliver a speech to the crowd about why she should be chosen as this year's queen. Then she had to demonstrate a victory lap around the arena - at a gallop - while holding up a huge American flag. Heck, I'd do that and more for the chance to wear the flashy chinks that get passed down from queen to queen every year. And don't even get me started on the tiara.
Anyway, the winner was a completely adorable Navajo cowgirl with a smile that could melt steel, a personality that could re-carbonate a keg of flat sarsaparilla and a thorough knowledge of all things rodeo. She was a solid hand, too, on her big, borrowed paint. Total crowd favorite, and I think everyone but the runner up's mom was thrilled that she won.
When I got home I saddled up Zzari and headed out for a long ride all over the prairie. I rode up to a big ridge I'd never visited before, and from where I could see a little lake/cattle tank below. Then I discovered an old homesteader's cabin, long abandoned, before heading to my favorite spot on Earth, which is basically a big pile of boulders that sits on a hill overlooking the prairie below with pine-covered hills and mountains all around it.
I love bling as much as any cowgirl, but I guess I love the simple stuff just as much. It was pretty fun to enjoy both in one day.

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